Card Sharking: Forward Into The Past of The Future

So this week, people waited with baited breath to hear about the new game from Blizzard.  World of Warcraft 2?  Something Else?  Something new?  What would it be . . .

. . . it was Hearthstone, a free-to-play online collectable card game where you can purchase new cards.

I can’t say I’m overwhelmed.  I’m not even sure I’m whelmed.*  There is some positive impression though.

It’s not as if I don’t like CCGs.  I still have my old Magic Cards** in fact, quite enjoyed the game, and of course as I move in Anime Circles, I’m used to people with so many CCG cards they can make clothes out of them.

Of course the announcement was greeted with a  lot of “eh” from what I can tell.  The game looks nice, the $1-price for extra stuff seems quite reasonable.  It’s just this isn’t new – it’s merely new for Blizzard to be trying something like this.

If this comes as a surprise, it shouldn’t.  There’s a bunch online/computer card style games out there, enough I actually haven’t kept track since they keep popping up now and then.  If anything, until now my two concerns is they may A) be too easy to make, and B) some games get disturbingly fanservicey.***

As for Blizzard jumping into this with what appears to be a quality product (this being Blizzard), you can guess I have some thoughts as to what it means for gaming and your career.

Yes, I’m going to share them.

This Makes Sense Monetarily: A free-to-play, pay-for-more game makes perfect sense monetarily since it’s really a similar model to others, and is at least a CLEAR model.  You’re not nickel-and-diming people.

This Has An Existing Metaphor: CCGs are permanently embedded in public consciousness in the last 20 or so years.  So people get this perfectly, and I expect less resistance to the idea.

People like CCGs: Note that thing about “the last 20 years”.

Other Companies Are Doing This: Gameloft  jumped on the MMO/computer CCG synergy bandwagon . . . kinda before Blizzard.  Which tells me there’s a possible trend (and maybe a few leaks here . . .)

This Is Probably Easy To Do: From my decayed knowledge of programming, the basic CCG ideas are pretty simple to implement – the AI and balancing is the pain in the rear.  But considered the amount of licenceable tech out there, it’s probably not TOO bad.

I Sense CopyCat – And That’s Bad:  On the other hand despite the ease and acceptability, I really get the sense that this opens the floodgates and we’ll see more of this.  If you recall the old CCG days when everyone jumped on the bandwagon, and kept jumping for awhile, imagine that in internet time.  We could get a sad, saturated market (and if you’re entry level, you might get assigned to lame or doomed projects.

Chance For Burnout: As noted, if this is a trend or spawns one (I sense a mix of both), then there’s a chance people will get sick of CCGs online.  Even a high-flyer could get brought down by boredon.

Dark Synergy: I can also see games being tied together with CCG games in rather disturbing and market-driven ways.  Penny Arcade covered this in a wa.  Those could be brand-wrecking and . . .

Led Into Temptation: Online CCGs have a foundation, cultural relevance, and a chance for assorted synergies.  Thus I am worried some pretty crazy stuff may get done that ends up turning people off to other properties, the genre, etc.

There’s my thoughts.  I’m on Trendwatch for further CCG elements in gaming and watching the impact of Blizzard’s choice.  Let me know what you think.

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at, nerd and geek culture at, and does a site of creative tools at He can be reached at

* If that’s not a word, it is now.
** I built one deck for every 2-color combination I could come up with.  And named them.  This probably surprises nobody.
*** You feel like people WANT a “I’ll tap that” joke to be made over and over.